In a recent article, my friend Carly Abney explained why Christians should care about the environment. Now that we’ve established that Christians should care about the environment, the next question is how. Often times people choose not to enter conversations on topics like science or the environment for two reasons:
- Genuine Intellectual Insecurity: They feel inadequate, lacking enough knowledge to speak on the issues.
- Superficial Intellectual Security: They believe they have the right answers and are unwilling to enter conversations where disagreement is almost certain.
Carly gave us several reasons why these avoidances actually hinder sharing gospel truths in the environmental movement. Now, Carly gives three practical ways we can work to overcome our perceived barriers and be engaged, ordered in increasing difficulty:
Part of engaging the environmental movement is simply knowing what people inside that community value, love and talk about. It can be as easy as following Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts where scientists and environmentalists share their opinions (such as @zerowastehome and @going.zero.waste on Instagram).
You can even watch documentaries (such as Worn Wear: A Film about the Stories We Wear by Patagonia or A Simpler Way: Crisis As Opportunity by Top Documentary Films).
2. Be a friend.
Befriend a scientist or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) student. The prospect of talking with a scientist may frighten you; after all, what would you have in common? But don’t assume you can’t carry on a conversation with that person about their work or studies.
In my experience, students who are believers really desire to talk through what they are studying in light of the gospel. Challenge them to apply the gospel to their work, and be willing to hear the answer and be challenged yourself.
3. Read widely.
One of the best and most comprehensive ways to engage another culture is to read works by the leading advocates. So consider reading books from leading climate change scientists. Be forewarned: You will likely read something you don’t agree with. But hopefully you can critically consider the value claims by environmentalists and then compare them to scripture.
If you need recommendations, try This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein, A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold or “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis” by Lynn White Jr.
Ultimately, our involvement in the environmental movement should be fueled by the truth of God’s Word, that in Christ “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:19-20). In Creation Regained, Albert M. Wolters drives this point deeper:
God does not make junk, and we dishonor the Creator if we take a negative view of the work of his hands when he himself takes such a positive view. In fact, so positive a view did he take of what he had created that he refused to scrap it when mankind spoiled it, but determined instead, at the cost of his Son’s life, to make it new and good again. God does not make junk and he does not junk what he has made.
Of all people, Christians have more reason to discuss the beauty of creation, ways to steward it well, and how to promote its abundant flourishing to the glory of God.